Karnataka lockdown can be lifted in phases, advisory panel tells govt

The relaxation that is currently allowed between 6 and 10 am may get extended further in the coming days, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka said.
Karnataka lockdown: A view of a deserted street in Bengaluru
Karnataka lockdown: A view of a deserted street in Bengaluru
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Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Wednesday indicated that the state may go for unlocking in four to five phases after June 14, as the COVID-19 induced lockdown comes to an end. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on COVID-19 has also sent in recommendations to the Karnataka government and suggested a graded unlock across the state. Karnataka is under a strict lockdown till June 14, and the state government is scheduled to take a call on the extension or lifting of the lockdown in the next couple of days. The TAC has recommended a gradual reopening every week or every fortnight.

"Keeping the number of deaths and new cases in mind and aimed at bringing down the COVID infections further, lockdown will not be relaxed at one go. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Health Minister K Sudhakar and I have held detailed discussions with the Chief Minister in this regard," Karnataka Minister R Ashoka said.

"First (relaxation) will be in timings, the current relaxation period is between 6 and 10 am, which may get extended further. Also, those who go for a walk at parks may get some relief... all this is subject to a final decision by the Chief Minister. Lockdown will not be relaxed at one go," he added.

According to Deccan Herald, which has accessed the committee’s recommendations made to the Yediyurappa government in the state, the TAC has said that non-essential shops, shopping malls and hotels may be allowed to reopen for a limited period of time — around four hours — every day. However, the TAC recommended that places of worship, swimming pools and other public places be shut till the end of June. The report submitted to the government also suggests opening markets, neighbourhood shops, malls and shopping streets for four hours at first, and gradually increasing the time period to 10 hours per day. 

The TAC also recommended restricting the movement of people from districts with a high number of cases to those districts where cases are low. The TAC also recommended a ban on election rallies and large gatherings. 

Closed spaces like pubs, bars and restaurants should be marked as high-risk category and only 50 percent occupancy should be allowed, the TAC has recommended, adding that marriages and such functions should have only 100-200 people and they should be allowed on a pass basis till December 2021.

Noting that the number of daily new cases in Bengaluru is still in the 2,000 range, Ashoka, who is also the Vice-Chairman of Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority said, it has to come below 500. The government will also have to keep in mind the rise in positive cases as the state unlocks, he added.

The Karnataka government had initially announced 14 days ‘close down’ from April 27, but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24, as the COVID-19 cases continued to spike. Citing lockdown yielding results and experts advice, it was further extended till June 7 and then again till June 14. 

Karnataka on Tuesday reported less than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 179 fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 27,17,289 and the death toll to 32,099.

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